An exploratory study of the wealth of older people in Ireland – North and South

Region
  • Northern Ireland
  • Republic of Ireland

12th June 2014, CARDI

Professor Paddy Hillyard, Dr Demi Patsios, Naomi Feely

In 2012, CARDI was asked by The Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland to carry out a series of research projects on ageing in Ireland, North and South. This study, An exploratory study of the wealth of older people in Ireland – North and South, was led by Professor Paddy Hillyard, Queen's University Belfast. It had the following objectives:

  • Examine what information is available on the wealth of older people on the island of Ireland.
  • Describe the type and level of housing, property and other assets.
  • Provide comparable estimates of the wealth of older people in Northern Ireland (NI) and the Republic of Ireland (ROI).
  • Draw out the policy implications of the research.
  • Stimulate a wider discussion about wealth and inequalities.

Key findings:

  • In NI the total personal wealth was estimated at just under £100 billion. People aged 50 and under were estimated to have 35% of the total wealth, while people aged 50 and over had 65%. Existing data does not allow for a similar comparison in ROI.
  • Households* aged 65+ in NI have a median disposable weekly income of £280 compared to £494 for those aged 25-49, £452 for those aged 50-64 and £251 for those aged 16-24.
  • In ROI, households** aged 65+ have a median disposable weekly income of €446 compared to €790 for those aged 25-49, €654 for those aged 50-64 and €418 for those aged 16-24.
  • In NI, people aged 65+ have the highest rate of home ownership (63%) and the lowest level of outstanding mortgage (3%) of any age group. They also have the highest level of savings (£4,000 on average) but the lowest level of value of household goods (a median of £525).
  • In ROI, 87% of people over 65 own their house outright and 2% own their house with a mortgage. The average value of savings held by this age group is €5,519.
  • In ROI the total value of owner-occupied housing stock was estimated to be €280 billion, of which 54% was held by those under 50.
  • In NI people over 50 had £42.5 billion (60%) of owner-occupied housing assets while those under 50 had £28.2 billion (40%).

Read the full report here.

Read the summary here.

*Edited on 19 June 2014 and 30 June to amend 2nd and 3rd bullet point in key findings where a reference is made to people 65+. This should read households aged 65+.